Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 ‘Nifty Fifty’ lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: 8 'Nifty Fifty' lenses tested and rated

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM

Best 50mm lens for your camera: Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM

Price: £115
Compared with the Sony 50mm f/1.4, which is the second most expensive in the group, this f/1.8 lens costs little more than a third of the price.

It’s designed exclusively for cameras that feature APS-C format image sensors, so can only be used in crop mode on full-frame bodies like the Sony A99.

It’s quite small and lightweight, but feels a bit plasticky and, like the Canon and Pentax f/1.8 lenses, has a plastic rather than metal mounting plate.

Unlike the Sony f/1.4 lens, the focus distance scale is printed on the focus ring (which rotates during autofocus), instead of being positioned beneath a viewing window.

But at least it does have a focus distance scale, which is absent on the Canon and Pentax f/1.8 lenses.

Another difference between the Sony lenses is that this one’s an SAM lens, with a built-in Smooth Autofocus Motor.

It’s a fairly basic electric motor and, on our A77 body, offered neither an increase in autofocus speed nor reduction in noise, compared with the f/1.4.

Whereas all other lenses in the group have a minimum focus distance of 45cm, this one focuses down to 34cm. As a result, the maximum magnification factor is slightly larger, at 0.2x rather than the more typical 0.15x.

Sharpness is marginally higher than in Sony’s more expensive f/1.4 lens, and colour fringing is better controlled. Vignetting on APS-C bodies is worse than with other lenses on test, which is no real surprise when all the others are full-frame compatible.

Features: 3/5
Build quality: 3/5
Image quality: 3/5
Value: 3/5

Overall: 3/5

PAGE 1 – What is a 50mm lens good for?
PAGE 2 – Features to look for in a Nifty Fifty lens
PAGE 3 – Best 50mm lens: 01 Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
PAGE 4 – Best 50mm lens: 02 Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
PAGE 5 – Best 50mm lens: 03 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
PAGE 6 – Best 50mm lens: 04 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
PAGE 7 – Best 50mm lens: 05 Pentax SMC DA 50mm f/1.8
PAGE 8 – Best 50mm lens: 06 Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM
PAGE 9 – Best 50mm lens: 07 Sony 50mm f/1.4 A
PAGE 10 – Best 50mm lens: 08 Sony DT 50mm f/1.8 SAM
PAGE 11 – Image quality comparison
PAGE 12 – Best 50mm lens: Verdict


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  • Edgard

    The Nikkor 50mm AF-S f1.4 is, by far, the slowest autofocus lens I’ve ever used. This point should be enough to put in on the bottom of the list. The AF-S 1.8 is a little better (considering its cost) but I would never use it for an assignment. For Nikon cameras, right now the only acceptable 50mm lens is the two Sigmas (if you want to shoot wide open) or the old Nikkor stopped down.

  • mikhs1

    “Another helpful by-product of shooting with a 50mm lens on an APS-C format body is that, along with the increased, effective focal length, the depth of field is further reduced. ”

    This statement is 100% false… Crop sensors actually “rob” lenses of their shallow depth of field, because in order to fill the frame with a subject of the same size one needs to either move further back or use a wider lens.